Pub­lic hear­ing sched­uled for Horst CAFO

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By BRAD KRO­NER bkro­ner@ches­pub.com

ELKTON — A con­tro­ver­sial concentrated an­i­mal feed­ing op­er­a­tion (CAFO) with pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval on the Horst Farm in Zion will re­ceive a pub­lic hear­ing at 6 p.m. Sept. 6 in the Ce­cil County Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing.

Galen Horst re­ceived pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval from the Mary­land De­part­ment for the En­vi­ron­ment (MDE) for a poul­try CAFO at the site roughly a year ago, prompt­ing out­cry from cit­i­zens in the area, who feared that the emis­sions would harm pub­lic health and that runoff would be an en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ard.

CAFO emis­sions in­clude am­mo­nia, which can be harm­ful to res­pi­ra­tory sys­tems, but re­search in the field is un­de­cided on whether CAFO emis­sions are concentrated enough to cause such harm.

In ac­cor­dance with MDE’s pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion process, pub­lic hear­ings are held if a pub­lic com­ment is given on a CAFO’s pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval within 20 days. If no com­ments are given, the sta­tus ad­vances from pre­lim­i­nary to fi­nal ap­proval.

If a pub­lic hear­ing is held, MDE can po­ten­tially make mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the de­signed plans. If MDE doesn’t make mod­i­fi­ca­tions, ag­grieved par­ties can re­quest a con­tested case hear­ing, in writ­ing, within 15 cal­en­dar days.

“At this point, when we get to the point of a hear­ing, we are pretty sure that un­less some­thing new comes out in the hear­ings, that the farm will be in com­pli­ance,” said Hi­lary Miller, d

irec­tor of MDE’s land man­age­ment ad­min­is­tra­tion

. “And it’s al­ready been through the county process.”

“We wouldn’t even get to a hear­ing if we thought there would be an is­sue,” she added.

An in­con­sis­tency in the site plan or a pre­vi­ously un­known is­sue with the site would be among the lone fac­tors that would de­rail the process, Miller ex­plained.

Dur­ing a con­tested case hear­ing, the ag­grieved par­ties are “lim­ited to con­test­ing the terms of the ap­proved plans,” ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land Code.

“We’re pretty con­fi­dent we can is­sue a per­mit,” Miller said.

The Horst Farm has also re­cently ap­plied to de­velop a cat­tle CAFO with 150 an­i­mals at the same site on Eng­land Cream­ery Road. The dead­line to re­quest a pub­lic hear­ing on that project is Aug. 24 and the dead­line for writ­ten com­ment is Sept. 3. With­out com­ment, the pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval be­comes a fi­nal ap­proval and the CAFO is regis­tered.

Five other CAFOs in the county are regis­tered or have a cer­tifi­cate of con­for­mance.

ISE Amer­ica has three poul­try CAFOs in the War­wick area with a total of over 2 mil­lion an­i­mals. Th­ese three CAFOs were all ap­proved in Oc­to­ber 2015.

Kilby’s Inc. has a dairy cat­tle CAFO with 600 an­i­mals that was regis­tered in Oc­to­ber 2013.

The Meck Farm in Ear­leville has op­er­ated a poul­try CAFO with 88,000 an­i­mals since it re­ceived its cer­tifi­cate in April 2016.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY BRAD KRO­NER

The Horst fam­ily has long run Zion Acres Farm, a dairy op­er­a­tion, on Eng­land Cream­ery Road, but is now look­ing to be­gin a large-scale, chicken-rais­ing op­er­a­tion.

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